Speed Reads

tough friday

Trump Organization hit with $1.6 million fine for tax fraud

Former President Donald Trump's family real estate business was on Friday ordered to pay a $1.6 million fine in connection with its conviction on felony tax fraud and other charges, multiple outlets have reported.

It was the maximum penalty the Trump Organization could have received in the case, and was handed down by a judge in Manhattan's State Supreme Court, The New York Times writes. News of the punishment arrived just days after former company CFO Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in prison for his role in the scheme, which saw top company executives dodge taxes on luxury off-the-books job perks. 

The Trump Organization's lawyers on Friday tried to shift blame onto a third-party accounting firm, who they claimed should have caught and stopped the nefarious activity, as well as Weisselberg, who they said was only acting out of self-interest, per the Times. But "these are arguments that were made throughout the trial," said Judge Juan Manuel Merchan. "This is not what the evidence has shown, and it is certainly not what the jury found." Per The Associated Press, "a fine was the only penalty a judge could impose" on the company following its December conviction, though "a person convicted of the same crimes would've faced years in prison."

Ultimately, the $1.6 million penalty represents "a symbolic, hardly crippling blow for an enterprise boasting billions of dollars in assets," AP adds. 

"I want to be very clear: we don't think that is enough," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Friday outside the courtroom, alluding to the size of the punishment. "Our laws in this state need to change in order to capture this type of decade-plus systemic and egregious fraud."